Wednesday News: Cracks in the armor


REPUBLICAN COUNTY COMMISSIONERS PUSH BERGER FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION: “We supported Medicaid expansion because our citizens need it. Did you know Senator that our poverty level is near 30%?” he continued. “Did you know that we have several hundred working adults with no means to have health care?” The decline of manufacturing left Graham County without a large private employer, Wiggins said. Given the dire circumstances, he said commissioners have to consider solutions that aren’t necessarily Republican ideas. “The reality is in places like Graham County,” Wiggins said, “a mom or dad working at McDonald’s or Wendy’s for just over minimum wage cannot afford $1,500 a month for insurance.” Wiggins concluded his letter by suggesting legislators don’t understand his county’s hardship. “You know Senator Berger,” he said. “for some people who have good paying jobs and good health insurance it is easy to say that those without health insurance just need to go to work, isn’t it?”

FRANKLIN GRAHAM LAUNCHES "DECISION AMERICA" TOUR AMID PROTESTS BY PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANS: For two weeks, Graham will visit eight cities in the Tar Heel state as part of the "Decision America Tour." Festival Park was filled Tuesday night with Graham's supporters. However, some Christians say the evangelist's conservative stance on political and social issues does not align with their beliefs. Graham said the purpose of these revival stops is to preach the gospel and the relationship they can have with God. While many people anticipated seeing him inside the park, dozens of other Christians protested his visit. However, dozens of people across the street don’t agree with Graham’s views. The group protesting considers themselves progressive Christians. Jan Mumford doesn’t like his idea of blending religion and politics. "Jesus is about love and if you're not about love ... he must be about something else," said Mumford, who is from Sampson County. "And if God teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves and we are taught to walk in the way of love."

FEDERAL JUDGE BLOCKS GEORGIA "FETAL HEARTBEAT" ABORTION LAW: The law signed in May by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp bans abortions once a "detectable human heartbeat" is present, with some limited exceptions. Cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women realize they're expecting, according to a legal challenge. The law had been scheduled to become enforceable on Jan. 1. Lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights in June filed a constitutional challenge to the law on behalf of Georgia abortion providers and an advocacy group. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones wrote in an order Tuesday that the current laws governing abortion in the state shall remain in effect for the time being. Based on current U.S. Supreme Court precedent, he wrote, the challenge to the new law is likely to succeed.

POMPEO IS TRYING TO KEEP STATE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEES FROM TESTIFYING BEFORE CONGRESS: House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused each other Tuesday of trying to intimidate State Department officials called as witnesses in the probe. Chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees said any attempt by Pompeo to prevent Department officials from speaking to them “is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction,” according to a statement issued by Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., who heads the foreign affairs panel. The Democrats’ statement came after Pompeo informed them hours earlier that five State Department officials called to give depositions in the inquiry into President Donald Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine over the next two weeks would not appear as scheduled this week. But at least two of the five planned to appear anyway before the House intelligence panel, according to a committee official who said Kurt Volker, the administration’s former special envoy to Ukraine, would be deposed as scheduled on Thursday. The questioning will take place behind closed doors, and there has been no word on whether a transcript would be released.

TRUMP'S BORDER OBSESSION IS MUCH WORSE THAN WE FEARED: The Oval Office meeting this past March began, as so many had, with President Trump fuming about migrants. But this time he had a solution. As White House advisers listened astonished, he ordered them to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico — by noon the next day. Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him. Mr. Trump’s order to close the border was a decision point that touched off a frenzied week of presidential rages, round-the-clock staff panic and far more White House turmoil than was known at the time. By the end of the week, the seat-of-the-pants president had backed off his threat but had retaliated with the beginning of a purge of the aides who had tried to contain him.